Hugging in the workplace?


If a family member or close friend goes in for a hug, you probably don’t think twice about it. But what about when a work colleague starts approaching with arms out for a hug?


We’re all aware that you’re either a hugger or you’re not in this world and that’s all fine and dandy, until someone from the office comes back from a long holiday or leave and you’re left with the decision of how to greet them. Do you go up to them arms wide open ready for a bear hug, give them a polite handshake, go in for a smooth high five, or just sit at your desk and offer up a friendly smile?


I’m not particularly a hugger myself, at least not in the workplace. Hugs are reserved for family and close friends; I can’t even imagine hugging a colleague. So if someone from the office came up to me and was going in for a hug, I think I’d have to resign to the fact that it was happening and just get it over with. Sure, it would be awkward for myself but I feel like stopping them before it happened to say no to the hug would cause a bit of strange situation between the two of us. I’d be left feeling awkward that I’d denied them a harmless hug and they would be left feeling embarrassed.


For people like me who think hugging doesn’t really have a place in the office, we could soon be thrown into one of our worst nightmares; a hug-loving workspace.


With an increasing popularity in relaxed workplaces, hugging is beginning to be commonplace in the office. For most people, this isn’t anything they will overly think about but if you’re like me and think hugging really isn’t something to do at work, you’re going to struggle with this adapting etiquette.


I feel like workplaces are becoming more sociable and informal which, whilst it may not be a bad thing, is something to take note of. Should we not focus on professionalism in the workplace?


Hugging, I feel, is a very informal greeting or display of affection and therefore not really suited to a workplace. I think the meaning of a hug can be misconstrued very easily and so has no place in an office.


Although it is not an office space, a survey of the US fast food industry found that more than a quarter of the workers felt as though they were hugged inappropriately. I believe that this is something that could be said for any number of workplaces where hugging is now common.


Unless you are aware of the reason for the hug and both parties are happy to hug, it’s somewhat of a minefield. Everyone has different thoughts on where hugging is or isn’t appropriate and whether or not they like it, and so in a workplace I don’t think hugging is the best option for greeting people. If you’re both close and have an understanding of each other’s boundaries then yes, by all means go forth and bear hug. But hugging someone you’re not really familiar with? It’s a no from me.
Perhaps the best way to sum up my view and that of many others, would be with a quote from Adina Zaiontz, chief executive of Napkin Marketing in Toronto; “No matter what you think, your work friends are different than your real friends. Your real friends can’t call HR on you.”